Queen Elizabeth NP
Queen Elizabeth National Park is understandably Uganda’s most popular Uganda safari tour destination.
The park’s diverse ecosystems, which include sprawling savanna, shady, humid forests, sparkling lakes and fertile wetlands, make it the ideal habitat for classic big game, ten primate species including chimpanzees and over 600 species of birds.
Set against the backdrop of the jagged Rwenzori Mountains, the park’s magnificent vistas include dozens of enormous craters carved dramatically into rolling green hills.
You will enjoy panoramic views of the Kazinga Channel with its banks lined with hippos, buffalo and elephants, and the endless Ishasha plains, whose fig trees hide lions ready to pounce on herds of unsuspecting Uganda kob.
As well as its outstanding wildlife attractions, Queen Elizabeth National Park has a fascinating cultural history. There are many opportunities for visitors to meet the local communities and enjoy storytelling, dance, music and more.
The gazetting of the park has ensured the conservation of its ecosystems, which in turn benefits the surrounding communities. Uganda safari to Queen Elizabeth National Park takes you to a truly a Medley of Wonders!
History of Queen Elizabeth national Park
The area currently occupied by the Queen Elizabeth National Park was previously a grazing area for local Basongora pastoralists.
When British explorers Stanley and Lugard toured the area towards the end of last century, both reported the area to have been largely depopulated as a result of cattle raiding (from the Bunyoro and Buganda kingdoms) and epidemics of rinderpest and smallpox.
The Basongora social economy could not recover from these events and with the exception of remnant villages around the two lakes, the area was almost completely depopulated. Those who did remain were forced to turn to fishing.
These events allowed the game populations to increase and vegetation to change significantly, and played an important role in determining the creation of the national park by the Protectorate administration.
In 1906, the area to the north of Lake George was declared a Game Reserve, in order to prevent what some administrators believed to be unregulated hunting by Africans and Europeans and growing pressure for development of cotton and wheat production.
By 1912, the whole of the Lake George and Ishasha areas (Lake George Game Reserve) were declared restricted areas, agricultural and fishing communities moved out to other non-affected areas and the area was largely abandoned.
Further outbreaks of sleeping sickness continued up until the mid-1930s. The National Park Ordinance was passed on 31st March 1952 and Queen Elizabeth National Park then, Kazinga National Park was legally gazetted later that year, following intense lobbying by the Chief Game Warden of that time, Bruce Kinloch, and the Governor.
As a result, the land area protected within the Lake George Game Reserve area was expanded considerably to include a large area to the east of Lake Edward and Kazinga Channel.
Flora and Fauna at Queen Elizabeth National Park
The Queen Elizabeth National Park has been designated a Biosphere Reserve for Humanity under UNESCO auspices. The park, includes a remarkable variety of ecosystems, from semi-deciduous tropical forest to green meadows, savannah and swamps.
It is the home of the famous tree climbing lion as well as the Uganda Kob, other antelope species, elephant, baboons, hippos, buffalo and chimpanzees. Over 600 species of birds have been recorded, making the park a magnet for bird watchers.
The bird species include the black bee-eater, 11 types of king fisher, Shoebill storks and several species of falcons, eagles and other raptors. In the crater lakes to the north, flocks of flamingos can be found. A favorite way to view the game is by launch trip on the Kazinga Channel between Lakes George and Edward.
Top Things to Do in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Experiential Things to Do and See in Queen Elizabeth Park while on African safari tour in Uganda. Queen Elizabeth Park is the Premier Wildlife Park in Southwestern Uganda, a favorite Park among visitors to the region. You have a wide variety of experiential things to and see here and can easily spend 5 days in the park.
Queen Elizabeth National Park should be on the must visit list of every visitor to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest since it is only a short drive and one can discover the Tree Climbing Lions of Ishasha, the chimpanzees of the Kyambura Gorge, the multitude of Birds, Hippos, wildlife along the incredible Kazinga Channel.
Hike through the Maramagambo Forest, birding trails abound here, all in the shadows of the Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon in the north and the Mitumbe Mountains of the Congo in the East.
Experiential Queen Elizabeth Park, not to be missed by Visitors to southwestern Uganda. The park with its abundant wildlife, birds, various scenery will add that African Wilderness touch to your time in Uganda.
Wildlife Game Drives:
Wildlife Game Drives in Queen Elizabeth prove to be a delight. There are 3,000 Elephants, over 10,000 buffaloes and you can find elephants even in the crater Valleys along the explosion crater drive.. .
Not only are there buffaloes and elephants but warthogs, waterbuck, Uganda Kob, Topi Antelopes and even the rare semi-aquatic Sitatunga Antelopes that have webbed toes.
Queen Elizabeth Park is also home to a number of feline cats that you can often spot on game drives, in some cases on Night Game Drives such as lions, leopards, civet cats, genal, and serval cats.
Wildlife abounds in Queen Elizabeth Park, most every visitors sees some lions on his Safari that take in Queen Elizabeth Park in Uganda.
Nocturnal Game Drives:
Nocturnal Game drives with spotlights is a most exciting adventure. It is the time that the predators are out on the prowl such as lions, leopards, civet cats, genal cats and serval cats.
A night game drive is taken after dinner. Darkness sets in Uganda soon after 7 pm and the nighttime action begins. Creatures that you would not see on a daytime Game Drive you will see at night and those that partake in the nocturnal game drive are simply amazed by what awaits them.
During nocturnal game drives, spotlights illuminate the night that you can see the animals on the prowl and those that are being prowled.
Kazinga Channel – Boat Safari:
Queen Elizabeth Park is home to 5000 hippos which iss one of the largest concentration of hippos in Africa and in Queen Elizabeth National Park they are found along Kazinga Channel.
Kazinga Channel is a 2 hour plus Boat Safari where you can see hippos, crocodiles, monitor lizards, elephant herds, buffaloes, antelopes and many different kinds of water birds.
The Kazinga Boat Safari is one of the highlights of a safari to Queen Elizabeth Park.
One of the little known about activities in Queen Elizabeth Park is Mongoose Research Tracking on the Mweya Peninsula.
This is a 3-hour activity that can be done with a guide who accompanies you as you set off to the Mongoose Research Area where you can observe the banded Mongoose and learn about their habits and ways.
This is a fascinating activity and you will see other wildlife, birds along the hike as you venture along Kazinga Channel on the Mweya Peninsula.
Lion Research Tracking:
Each morning or late afternoon you can take part in a Lion Tracking Research Experience in Queen Elizabeth Park, these tracking times last between one to three hours and are done twice a day and tracks lions who have radio-collars attached to them. You will be with researchers and learn the habits of the Lions in Queen Elizabeth Park.
This Lion Tracking Experience is limited to just a few visitors and one must be booked ahead of time in order to take part in this unique lion tracking.
Let us know if you like to include this most unusual Lion Tracking Experience in Queen Elizabeth Park during your safari. This is a different experience since you are going out with researchers not just a normal game drive. There is limited space and it must be booked well in advance by us.
Birding in Queen Elizabeth Park:
Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda is one of the best parks for birding in Uganda if not in all of Africa with 619 species that are found in this Birders Paradise.
Birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park is an incredible treat as it has a variety of habitats that range from savanna to wetlands to lowland forests.
Present in the park, are many water birds, woodland and forest dwellers in the Maramagambo Forest, 54 raptors and various migratory species. Key species include the Martial Eagle, Black-rumped Buttonquail, African Skimmer, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Pinkbacked Pelican and African Broadbill.
Others are Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Black Bee-eater, White-tailed Lark, White-winged Warbler, Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, Corncrake, Lesser and Greater Flamingo, Shoebill, Bar-tailed Godwit.
Hiking in Queen Elizabeth National Park:
Nature Walks and Hiking opportunities – at Queen Elizabeth Park you are not stuck in a vehicle but you can get out explore areas such as Maramagambo Forest, Kyambura Gorge which is part of the Western Rift Valley, the Mweya Peninsula, and you hike along the Ishasha River in Isasha.
If you are an avid hiker, love nature walks then you will find Queen Elizabeth Park just the right place for you. Queen Elizabeth Park does not mean being stuck in a vehicle but the freedom to explore and discover.
Chimpanzee Tracking – Kyambura Gorge:
There are 10 species of primates found in Queen Elizabeth Park – the most popular one is the Chimpanzee which is found in the gash in the Savannah – the Kyambura Gorge which has been called “the lost valley” by BBC in a documentary and is commonly referred to “the Valley of the Apes.”
Kyambura Gorge on a Uganda Chimpanzee Trek is one os the most fascinating areas in Queen Elizabeth Park to see, as you the descent into the valley you will be simply amazed.
In the Gorge, you cross Rivers, meander through the thick forest in search of chimpanzees and spot other wildlife, primates and birds as you do so.
This Ironwood forest – plus fruit trees is a place buzzing with primates, including chimpanzees, baboons and several monkey species, the forest is also alive with many birds including the rare Forest Flycatcher, White-naped Pigeon and the striking Rwenzori Turaco.
One can also visit the ‘cormorant house’, a large tree that has been turned white by the birds that roost here at night.
Maramagambo is a favorite with with birders but also with hikers that take the Bat Cave Trail that takes them to a Bat Cave viewing area from which ts resident pythons. The viewing area was constructed by the American Center of Disease Control and it is designed for your protection.
Ishasha Tree Climbing Lions:
This remote southern region enjoys fewer visitors than the north, but those who venture this far may be rewarded with sightings of Ishasha’s most famous residents – the tree-climbing lions.
Ypu will find them lounging in the branches while keeping a close eye on the herds of Uganda Kob. It is also home to many buffaloes and elephants as well as the rare shoebill stork.
Ishasha is also a convenient region to pass through on the way to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. A place to stop in and take a game drive to see the rare in Africa tree climbing lions.
A fantastic experience is to stay one or two nights at the Ishasha Wilderness Lodge in the south of Queen Elizabeth Park in the Ishasha Region.
A bush breakfast adds extra cost to your stay at a lodge, but it is well worth it for the experience that you will have.
Kyambura Wildlife Reserve:
Kyambura Wildlife Reserve along with its beautiful crater lakes found in this reserve is a great add-on visit to Queen Elizabeth Park. It is a short distance from Queen Elizabeth Park.
The Kyambura Wildlife Reserve is located to the east of Kyambura Gorge, and offers excellent opportunities to see many water birds including greater and lesser flamingos (during their season and time Uganda) and the great egret.
One can go on wildlife game drives here, take guided nature walks, see the crater lakes and simply enjoy this as an addition to Queen Elizabeth National Park. The good news is that there is no additional cost besides your daily park fees at Queen Elizabeth Park.
Please remember the flamingos are migratory birds and are seen during the northern winter season in Uganda but after that they head north again.
Katwe Explosion Craters Drive:
The huge round basins scattered across the equator are evidence of the Albertine Rift’s bubbling volcanic activity in times past. A past which was not that long ago and occurred around the time the Egyptian pyramids were built.
The explosion craters are a must-see for those with a particular interest in the region’s fascinating geological history.
Even National Geographic has found this a most fascinating area and has published pictures of it.
The 27km drive between Kabatoro gate and Queen’s Pavilion takes in views of the enormous craters, circular lakes, the vast Rift Valley escarpment and the Kazinga channel, Lake George and Lake Edward – all with a view of the Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon.
A Visit to the Ancient Lake Katwe Salt Works:
This unusual lake is far too salty to support much wildlife – though since the 16th Century it has ensured the survival of the Katwe villagers, who spend their days under the equatorial sun, walking the network of paths that cross-cross the lake and harvesting salt from its milky waters.
The work here is dangerous since the saline waters do much damage to the body of those who spend all day in the lake harvesting the salt which at one time was like gold and brought wealth to the area, however today the salt from Katwe does not bring wealth since times have changed and salt is readily available from various sources.
Katwe Salt Lake Tour gives a unique insight into the fascinating yet tough process of salt mining, as well as providing an alternative income for Katwe.
See villagers at work on the lake, cross the mud walkways and enter a traditional grass hut. You will also pass the nearby bird sanctuary lake, home to thousands of birds, including flamingos from October to May.
Nyanz’ibiri Cave Community:
This is a time to stretch your legs after long game drives with scenic walks around a slice of Ugandan paradise, at this community site known as The Cave. There are two conjoined crater lakes to hike around, village isits
See splendid panoramic views of volcanic crater lakes to the cries of crested cranes and eagles. Paddle a canoe, hike to the Transparent Lake, spot eight species of forest primates.
Local attractions include a historic cave and Cultural Museum – a perfectly preserved Banyaruguru hut, filled with valued local artifacts that were once the tools of everyday life.
This community run lodging accommodation also offers three, fully furnished private bandas and a campsite. All visitor can have a meal at the restaurant and bar, and enjoy the evening traditional dance performances.
Leopard Village is a community-run, socio-economic development initiative that promotes cultural and wildlife conservation through ecotourism. Located near the village of Muhokya, Leopard Village sits on 3 acres bordering the northern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Visitors can tour replicas of the traditional huts of the Banyabindi, Bakonzo, and Basongora ethnic groups, watch traditional song and dance performances, and buy handicrafts made by local communities.
Longer visits can include conversations with community members about the challenges and opportunities they face living next to the park, visits to local schools, and discussions about traditional village life and solutions for human-wildlife conflict.
Leopard Village is a partnership between the local communities of Muhokya,Kahenderoand Hamukungu, and the Uganda Carnivore Program, with support from zoos in the United States and Germany.
Kikorongo Women Community:
The word Kikorongo means Too Much Sunshine in the local language of Lukonzo – but the heat of the African plains has not diminished the energy of the Kikorongo Equator Cultural Performers!
This vibrant dance and musical performance, which takes place at lodges around the park, is a wonderful glimpse of life in Kikorongo, with dance, drama, music and fire-making. While a local interpreter explains the significance of the performances, you can sit back and watch village life unfold in front of you.
Kikorongo’s African Art – Craft Workshops teaches guests how to weave baskets and bowls using natural fibers – it´s not as easy as the teachers makes it look! They also show you how to recycle magazines into colorful paper beads, which can be made into unique necklaces.
The good thing here is that not only do you have some cultural interaction but learn some new skills.
Kalunzi Forest can easily be tacked on to an itinerary that takes in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
This is one of the National Forests of Uganda and is not managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority. Here you can track Chimpanzees beginning at age 12 and not 15.
The chimpanzees here have been habituated by Japanese Researchers for many years and are quite easily found while out on a Chimpanzee Trek with guides.
You can go on Nature Walks and Hikes seeing various primates, birds and other animals.
Hot Air Balloon Safaris:
Hot Air Balloon Safaris can now be taken in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda. Meet a new day as the sun rises above Queen Elizabeth Park in Uganda.
View the Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon, see the majestic Western Rift, the explosion Craters, Lake Edward and Lake George, elephant herds, buffaloes, antelopes all from above.
There will be two balloons – with experienced and licensed pilots (1000 hours plus flying time) and the balloons have been certified by the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority.
After the Hot Air Balloon Safari enjoy a delightful Bush Breakfast which is prepared by Mweya Lodge. We love to include the Hot Air Balloon Ride in your Safari Itinerary with us – Please let us know.
|Languages spoken||English, Luganda|
|Currency used||Uganda Shillings (UGX)|